| Six Steps to Letting Go of Your Past
- Write, talk, draw, paint, or otherwise tap into your thoughts and memories. Letting go of your past means honoring your memories.
- Let go of the emotions and feelings of painful memories by letting them wash over you – you'll feel horrible during, but relieved and peaceful afterwards. Let go of your past by reliving it.
- Go back and talk to the people involved, if possible. Letting go of your past can mean going back.
- Share your real feelings; confess if it's appropriate. Letting go of your past means expressing your emotions. If you have to deal with your mistakes, then own up to your shame or guilt.
- Apologize and ask forgiveness if you need to. Letting go of your past means being vulnerable.
- Get help with uncontrollable urges to overeat, get stoned or drunk, or otherwise hurt yourself. Letting go of your past means burying your pride.
Letting go of a loved one – whether it's a divorced spouse, estranged sibling, or euthanized pet – is difficult to do. For more tips, read 5 Ways to Say Goodbye to Someone You Love.
Tips for Moving On With Life
Accept that there's nothing you can do to change the past. You did the best you could. When you're facing your failures, know that you were as good, loving, and effective as you could have been. If you were to go back, you couldn't do anything differently because that's who you were and that's what you knew then. It's done. Let go of your past.
Forgive yourself for your mistakes. Ruminating on what you could've or should've done is ineffective and unhealthy. If you're dealing with your mistakes or facing your failures, try to forgive yourself.
Be aware of your thoughts. When you find yourself dwelling or obsessing over the past or the person you lost, gently draw your thoughts back to the present. Let go of your obsession, whether it's an addictive relationship or lost child.
Trust the nature of time. You will heal and move on. Your wound will slowly close up and soon only a faint scar will remain - if you let go of your past.
Make new connections with people. You don't necessarily have to make a whole new set of friends; you can initiate a new type of friendship with a colleague or invite a neighbor over for coffee. If you talk about facing your failures, you'll be better able to actually face your failures.
Seek balance in your conversations. It's important to vent and share your pain and sadness, and it's equally important to show your interest in other people's lives. Letting go of your past means letting go of yourself.
Explore a new world. Take a new course at the community college or start a new hobby. To let go of the past, start looking in new directions!
Volunteer your time. There are hundreds of interesting opportunities that will help you say good-bye to the past. Visit a volunteer website or centre in your city. Move out of your comfort zone: if you're a mom and wife, try building a Habitat for Humanity home or spending time with seniors.
When you're letting go of an ex-partner, you should seriously consider whether it's wise to spend time together -- or if you should let go altogether. Maybe you're still in love, or were abused, and have confused thoughts and feelings. Taking a break may be the wisest course of action -- and so might be totally letting go.